Migrant Protection Protocol…. Remain in Mexico….. family separation…. Lowest refugee ceiling in recent history…. Bans on Muslims…. ICE raids…. The attack on immigrants has been relentless and increasingly brutal. The recent action – to reduce the number of refugees to be resettled to a mere 18,000 is just the latest action. What does this mean?
This number refers to those who are accepted into the U.S. Resettlement Program (USRP). A refugee is a person outside of his/her country who is unable or unwilling to return to his/her country of nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
The U.N. recommends groups for resettlement. These individuals apply in their own country or resettlement camps in neighboring countries for entry into the US and where they will be settled. They receive extreme vetting. Since the program started in 1980, an average of 95,000 refugees were resettled in the U.S. There are currently around 40,000 who have gone through the process and are ready to be resettled. Sadly, the administration recently announced that they would only admit 18,000 in 2020. These 18,000 will be used to resettle 4,000 Iraqis who have assisted our forces there, 1,500 refugees from Central America’s Northern Triangle, 5,000 refugees fleeing religious persecution, and a remainder of 7,500 for other needs.
In 2018 only 1 out of 500 refugees needing resettlement received it with only the most vulnerable refugees being considered for resettlement. Reasons for admittance include medical needs, children at risk, women and girls at risk, and survivors of violence/torture.
The decline in the U.S. refugee admissions comes at a time when the number of refugees worldwide has reach the highest levels since WW 2 to 70.8 million. Around 80% of the world’s refugees have been living in exile for 5 years and around 1/5 of them for 20 years. Violence, war, economic collapse, and climate change are the primary reasons that refugees flee their countries.
Many of the members of the House of Representatives don’t like this reduction. They have introduced HR 2146, the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act to ensure that the U.S. would admit no fewer than 95,000 refugees each year. Call your representative if you think the U.S. has a responsibility to welcome those in need.